The old saying goes that practice makes perfect, but in golf, there’s no such thing as perfect. Even on the best days on the course, there’s always things that can be improved. Perfection is simply unattainable.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be practicing at all, though. Even though you’ll never perfect the golf swing, you can still make marked gains that translate into success on the course. But you’ve got to know how to get the most out of your practice if you want to see those gains.
1. Have a plan and get feedback
One of the biggest mistakes recreational golfers make is not knowing how to practice. They go to the range and mindlessly beat balls with no rhyme or reason. Instead, you need to have a plan for your practice, and a way to measure your performance. Give yourself a goal every time you practice and monitor if you’re meeting that goal.
2. Set realistic expectations
While your goals should be ambitious, they should also be realistic. If you’re a 10-handicap and hope to average 300+ yards off the tee, that probably won’t happen. As McCormick notes, set your goals slightly above your current ability level. Once you achieve those goals, set the bar a little higher. That incremental progress will add up over time.
3. Target your weaknesses
No one likes doing things they’re bad at, but if you want to improve, you must tackle those weaknesses. Figure out what your biggest weakness is and practice like hell to improve it. If you only practice what you’re good at, you’ll just be getting by. Make it your goal to get better.
4. Simulate pressure
Golf is a game that requires you to handle pressure. If you want to get better at that skill, you must practice it. Simulate pressure situations when you practice so you can get used to the feeling of performing when the stakes are highest. It’s not the easiest thing to manufacture pressure when you practice, but if you can get comfortable performing under the gun, you’ll be better when you get out on the course.
5. Find it in the dirt
There are no shortcuts on the path to improvement, so be ready to practice A LOT. Practice so much that you get sick of it, and then practice it some more. Make the things you do in practice so ingrained that you can’t do them wrong on the course. As McCormick notes, the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.